What do we do?

Birmingham eLearning FoundationBeLF is keen to help schools and parents to fully commit to the use of technology in teaching and learning for the benefit of current and future pupils and their families.

In order to achieve this BeLF is actively helping schools to raise funds and grants to enable them to purchase computers for pupils to use for learning at home.  Right now this is the area where we feel we can have the greatest impact on the educational opportunities of Birmingham’s students.

BeLF works in partnership with schools, parents and pupils.  Success is achieved by working together.

We start by meeting with schools to help review their use of technology-based teaching and learning, and explore whether there is a desire and commitment to provide home access to computers for their pupils.

Schools now have access to a wealth of technology-based learning resources and ‘content’ (technology-based subject matter).  Schools are investing in Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), which become the online hub for teaching, learning and communicating, both within the school and with the outside world. The home-based computer extends access to the school’s learning resources and the more these resources can be accessed for homework and out of school learning the more effective the home-based computer will be as a tool for education.

We are prioritising those schools in Birmingham where our involvement is most needed and, to get things started, we focus on one or two year groups in each of these schools. It is important to cover an entire year group so that teachers can plan lessons and homework involving the use of computers, knowing that all children in the group will be included. Once the programme is running other year groups are brought on stream.

BeLF’s programme is based on two key principles:

  1. Sustainability – a sustainable programme is one that will have enough funding to include all pupils in the chosen year groups both now and in the future.
  2. Inclusivity – the programme includes all children in the year groups selected and we also encourage their families to use the computer at home, thereby extending the benefits into the community

The computers and devices that are purchased as part of this programme are bought VAT free, in large quantities, they are robust enough for student use, and they come with the latest operating system, as well as educational software, virus checking, warranty and helpdesk support.

How is the Programme Funded?

Funding is put together from a number of sources and the Birmingham eLearning Foundation works closely with each of them. BeLF assists schools that wish to participate in the programme in constructing a case for funding.

Making the limited funds stretch to as many children as possible is a challenge.  The key to releasing the different funds is working together to make the programme financially viable and maintaining the Birmingham eLearning Foundation Charity’s two key principles: firstly that we include all children and their families in the chosen year groups and, secondly, that the programme can be sustained in future years so that all children in the school and their families continue to benefit.  This is the Birmingham eLearning Foundation model and it is working well.

Parental Contributions form part of the funding required for a sustainable programme. They demonstrate the commitment of parents and carers to the programme and help to ensure that the programme will continue for the benefit of pupils in the current and subsequent years.

For those schools in disadvantaged communities a significant amount of the funding will come from grants, other charitable funds and any funding the school can contribute itself, but some of that funding relies on the existence of Parental Contributions.

The Parental Contributions are a charitable donation towards the programme, not a payment towards a computer. (*) To make the scheme affordable to all, the amount of the contribution does not cover the full cost of running the programme. It’s important that everyone participates. If too many parents are unhappy about contributing, it may not be possible to get the programme started in the school. Parents and carers can choose not to participate if they so wish but, once they are clear how the Programme works, they are usually keen to do so.

No child will be excluded from the programme because of their financial circumstances so parents and carers are urged to discuss any issues they may have with the school so they can ensure every child is included. (*)

We ask that the Parental Contributions are made using the Government’s Gift Aid scheme.

Why Use Gift Aid?
By administering the Parental Contributions to the schools’ funds through the Birmingham eLearning Foundation, it is possible to reclaim a Gift Aid tax allowance. This means that for each £1 contributed, the Charity can collect 28 pence back from HM Revenue & Customs making that £1 contribution equivalent to £1.28.  This not only helps to increase the schools’ funds but also helps BeLF to cover the costs of administering the scheme on behalf of schools.

More about Gift Aid:

What is Gift Aid?

The Government operates the Gift Aid scheme to encourage individuals and businesses to donate more money to charity.
Under the scheme, UK charities can claim back the basic rate tax already paid on gifts of money received from individuals who pay or have paid UK tax.
Some of the rules include:

Gift Aid only applies to donations of money.
Gift Aid donations from individuals must be supported by a valid ‘Gift Aid declaration’.

Donations and/or tax repayments received through the Gift Aid scheme must only be used for charitable purposes.

How Does Gift Aid work?
If you pay UK tax on your income or gains (e.g. through PAYE, by Self Assessment (SA) or at source on your bank/building society interest) and then make a Gift Aid donation, UK charities can claim back basic rate tax relating to that donation directly from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). As a result any gift you make, as a Gift Aid donation, is worth more to the charity than the amount you actually pay.

Example

If you pay tax at the basic rate of 20%, you actually have to earn £12.50 to receive £10 in your pay packet. (£12.50 x 20% = £2.50 tax).
Because charities can reclaim that basic rate tax a Gift Aid donation of £10 it is worth £12.50 to your chosen charity.

For Gift Aid donations made from 6 April 2008 to 5 April 2011, HMRC will also be operating transitional provisions, paying the charity a Government supplement of 3p on every £1 donated. This means that your £1 Gift Aid donation is worth a total of £1.28 to the charity.
For more details see the Government Direct website